The Nigeria Police on Tuesday accused rights activist, Olarenwaju Suraju, who doubles as Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), of cyber-stalking, giving false information, injurious falsehood, and defamation. The police reached the conclusions after investigating a petition by former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN), against Suraju.
The accusations against Suraju were contained in a report issued by the Inspector General of Police (IG) Monitoring Unit on September 2, following a petition by the former minister.
In the petition, Suraju was alleged to have used the social media platforms of his organisation to release an email, purportedly, of Adoke and JP Morgan, the US investment bank, in June 2011 over OPL 245 transactions involving Malabu Oil & Gas Limited, Shell and Eni.
The email alleged that the former minister had communicated the investment bank through the address of a company owned by Aliyu Abubakar, who was also on trial in Italy. The correspondence was intended to support a claim that the transaction was fraudulent, and it alleged that Adoke and Abubakar “worked together” on the deal.
Adoke was also accused in the email of having a phone conversation with an Italian journalist in 2017, where he, allegedly, acknowledged that the OPL245 deal was a scam.
But in the petition in February, through his lawyers, to the Inspector-General of Police, Adoke, who had earlier refuted the allegations, called for a thorough investigation to unravel the truth. He argued that he was no longer minister at the date the said email was sent and, so, had no reason to use another person’s email address.
The former AGF described the purported phone conversation with an Italian journalist in 2017 as stage-managed. He said he was on self-exile at the time and had stopped using a Nigerian line since June 2015.
Communicating its findings to Adoke through a letter signed by Head of the IG Monitoring Unit, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ibrahim Musa, the police described the email and voice conversation as forged. They said Suraju did not verify the phone tape and email before sharing on social media, describing his act as a calculated attempt to resort to media trial and falsify relationship between Adoke and Abubakar.
The report said, “A thorough investigation was carried out and in the course of investigation, it was evident that Mr Olarenwaju Suraju of Human and Environmental Development Agenda – an unregistered organisation, without verifying the authenticity of the purported telephone interview and email, proceeded to use the social media handle of @HedaAgenda on Twitter and @HedaResourceCentre on Facebook to disseminate same.
“When invited by the police to substantiate his claims, he feigned sickness, jumped bail, and resorted to issuing press statements maligning the police, writing frivolous counter petitions, and filing civil suits in court against the IGP Monitoring Unit, Force Headquarters, Abuja, and the police, aimed to undermine the investigation and to evade the course of justice.
The police report also said, “That the claims made by Mr. Olarewaju Suraju that his foreign partners, national and international media agencies, are the authors of the information he shared is misleading, as he was the one issuing the press statements that were published by these media agencies;
“That the totality of the conduct of Olarewaju Suraju is a calculated attempt to resort to media trial and to falsify relationship between Mohamed Bello Adoke, SAN, and Aliyu Abubakar while their cases are still on-going in court, thereby misleading the public, of which elements of a prima facie case of cyber-stalking, giving false information to misled public officers, injurious falsehood and criminal defamation with intent to incite exist.”
After the police made its findings public, Suraju first dismissed the report as fake, insisting that the police were yet to complete investigations on the issue.